Plant Growing No Bed of Roses

The oil furnace was humming as I arrived at one of two greenhouses Peter and Helen MacArthur have under cultivation on Monday morning. A third greenhouse nearby stands ready but with the price of oil it will have to wait. “Last year I paid around $2.50 a gallon and this year it’s up to $4.00 gallon” Peter MacArthur told the Reporter.

“See those hanging baskets there” MacArthur pointed out, “I thought they made a mistake on the bill and called them. Last year they were $1.25 each and this year they’re $3.75”.

To add to MacArthur’s woes his automatic seeding machine broke down. “They wanted $250 an hour for a repairman to be flown in from Tennessee to fix it and that didn’t include the cost of putting the guy up in a motel”.

With last year’s rains, peat moss was unable to be harvested in Canada making for a shortage of the product, a key ingredient in potting soil. MacArthur has reverted to mixing peanut shells in his mixture rather than pay the high price of potting soil. With increased heating bills costing nearly $2,000 per week, per greenhouse, there’s the cost of water, not to mention the price of seeds and shipping costs sometimes being more than the seeds themselves.

While Helen MacArthur had hoped to open their stand this past weekend with a few pansies, the weather just didn’t permit it. “Maybe this coming weekend” she said. We may have to raise our prices a bit, but I have to remain competitive, MacArthur stated.

Asked if he was going to retire soon MacArthur said, “my wish is to die on my tractor”.

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Bobby Blair

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